Papa Hou – Treasure Box



The YMCA is excited to announce that their stadium space has been converted into a 250 seat black box theatre, to act as a transitional stop-gap to the current lack of facilities available to theatre, dance and circus performers at affordable rates in the central city.

The initiative has been met with enthusiasm from potential users of the theatre, and has been funded by the YMCA, the Christchurch City Council and the Rata Foundation.

The new space is ready for shows now, and will be formally named Papa Hou (translating as Treasure Box) at a function in November.

“What SPECTRUM demonstrated is that the city needs more things for families and tourists to do in the central city. Feedback about SPECTRUM was undoubtedly wildly positive and the exhibits were hugely successful from an audience engagement point of view. However, for the YMCA, this represented a large financial commitment that was unsustainable in the long term on the basis of fundraising alone, so we are strategically trying to position our assets so they are less reliant on large city council funded event budgets.” YMCA CEO Josie Ogden Schroeder said.

The theatre will provide an income stream and a flexible space which will provide year-round revenue generating shows to occur as well as ‘free’ community events such as Street Art demonstrations, workshops, street dance and theatre. It is also a great way to test the ‘black box’ concept in Christchurch, a type of theatre which is otherwise absent in New Zealand.

The Christchurch City Council will continue to support the YMCA to provide a Street Art festival at the YMCA early next year, which will combine performance street art as well as visual art, and will continue with the annual mural creation on the city streets.

Oi YOU! and YMCA Christchurch have worked together for two years producing SPECTRUM at the YMCA through a collaboration which revolved around creating something awesome for the central city during this period of regeneration.

Together, they have seen nearly twenty large scale murals painted around the city and 150,000 people through the SPECTRUM exhibit at the YMCA, an exhibit which has been hugely successful for the quality of the art and artistic direction by Oi YOU!, it’s international recognition and acclaim, and the YMCA ethos of breaking down barriers to participation. This was an exhibit which was openly inviting for families, children, young, old and everything in-between – and feedback from visitors demonstrates that the inclusive nature of the exhibit and its location, was a significant part of its innovative success.


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